Sunday, March 23, 2008

Angels Weep

Najaf; August 23 2004: A man walks past as a car burns on the outskirts of the old city.
Vicious criminals claiming to be Christians try to justify unspeakable evil by quoting the apostle Paul's letter to the Romans, especially the beginning of Chapter 13, in which he wrote:
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to [execute] wrath upon him that doeth evil. -- Romans 13:1-4 (KJV)
Baghdad; September 12 2004: Dead and critically injured Iraqi civilians lie in Haifa Street after US helicopters opened fire on targets in the area.
They seem to forget that Paul was writing during the most decadent period of the decline of the Roman Empire. Caligula had died a few years earlier; his successors were feeding Christians to the lions. Paul's writing was considered very dangerous, and he gave himself a bit of cover. Not much, certainly. Not by today's standards.

But it's clearly cover; it's first-century political satire, and the early Christians, if not actually rolling on the floor over this passage, would certainly have taken it with a huge block of salt.

Baghdad; September 12 2004: Civilians lie dead after a dawn battle
But the powers that be don't want you to know any of that. And they always neglect to mention that in the very same chapter, Paul says:
Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if [there be] any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. -- Romans 13:9 (KJV)
Who do they think they're fooling?

Baghdad; September 2007: Flags mark graves in a makeshift cemetery for victims of sectarian killings on the eastern outskirts the poor Shia slums of Sadr city.
The false witness alone would be enough to make angels weep.